Catherine C. McDonald, PhD, RN
Injury, which is largely preventable, is the leading cause of death in adolescents in the U.S.
As a pediatric intensive care, emergency department, and school nurse, Dr. McDonald saw the effects of the risky behaviors that teens engage in firsthand. Now, she’s studying ways to address these risky behaviors, such as texting while driving, to prevent injuries and promote health.
Dr. McDonald’s research examines the complex interplay of factors that contribute to adolescent morbidity and mortality associated with injury. Dr. McDonald’s scholarly contributions to adolescent injury prevention inform strategies to promote health and prevent negative health outcomes.
“Injury is the leading cause of death in adolescents and addressing behaviors that contribute to injury is of vital importance in promoting later adult health. ”
- PhD , University of Pennsylvania , 2010
- MSN, Monmouth University, 2006
- BSN, Villanova University , 2000
Dr. McDonald collaborated with researchers at CHOP to develop a Simulated Driving Assessment (SDA), which gave teens an opportunity in a simulator to drive in the most frequent serious crash scenarios. They found that 43% of new drivers crashed during the SDA and that advanced driving skills, such as braking in hazardous situations, proved difficult for newly licensed drivers. Her expertise in driving simulation as a nurse scientist is critical and unique, as she can rigorously assess risky adolescent driving behaviors in a safe, controlled environment, while being able to draw in the public health and clinical implications.
Reducing Risky Driving Behaviors
Since joining the Penn Nursing faculty in 2014, Dr. McDonald has carried out research funded by the National Institute of Nursing Research and the Centers for Disease Control to better understand and reduce risky driving behaviors in adolescents. She has also carried out studies to examine the association of mental health symptoms with adolescent risky driving behaviors, as well as cell phone use while driving with parents.
Dr. McDonald has collaborated with Penn researchers across the campus, with the PENN Injury Science Center, and with researchers at CHOP’s Center for Injury Research and Prevention. She has also involved a number of undergraduate and graduate students in this research, and is proud to have the opportunity to expose them to research early in their careers. Her future research will focus on how best to tailor interventions to help teens keep their attention on the roadway.
Opportunities to Learn and Collaborate at Penn Nursing
Penn Nursing displays the diversity of pathways that nurses can take in their career. Dr. McDonald is excited to be able to help shape the next generation of nurses, and to be in a research-intensive environment where her research is well supported. She teaches a freshman year required BSN course, guest lectures on adolescent health, and is involved in PENN Futures. She also mentors undergraduate and graduate students on conducting research.
Selected Career Highlights
- Co-Director Training and Education Core, Executive Committee, PENN Injury Science Center (2019)
- Chair, Young Driver Subcommittee, Transportation Research Board (2019)
- Inducted as a Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing (2017)
- “Emerging Scholar Award,” Villanova University Nursing Alumni Award (2016)
- “Rising Star Research Award,” Eastern Nursing Research Society (2015)
- Ann Wolbert Burgess Endowed Student Award for Excellence and Leadership in Nursing, University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing (2010)
McDonald, C.C., Ward, K., Huang, Y., Wiebe, D.J., & Delgado, M.K. (2019). Novel smartphone-based measures of cell-phone use while driving in a sample of newly licensed adolescent drivers. Health Education and Behavior, 46(1), 10-14. (NIHMS986013).
McCabe, E.M., McDonald, C.C., Connolly, C.A., Lipman, T.H. (2019). A review of school nurses’ self-efficacy in asthma care. Journal of School Nursing, 35(1), 15-26.
Delgado, M.K., McDonald, C.C., Winston, F.K., Halpern, S.D., Buttenheim, A.M., Setubal, C., Saulsgiver, K.A., & Lee, Y-C. (2018). Attitudes on technological, social, and behavioral economic strategies to reduce cellphone use while driving in teens. Traffic Injury Prevention, 19(6), 569-576. (PMC6215497).
McDonald, C.C., Kennedy, E., Fleisher, L., & Zonfrillo, M.R. (2018). Factors associated with cell phone use while driving in a survey of parents and caregivers of children ages 4-10 years. Journal of Pediatrics, 201, 208-214.
McDonald, C.C., Kennedy, E., Fleisher, L., & Zonfrillo, M.R. (2018). Situational use of child restraint systems and carpooling behaviors in parents and caregivers. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 15(8), 1788. (PMC6121359).
Flynn, K., McDonald, C.C., D’Alonzo, B., Tam, V. & Wiebe, D.J. (2018). Violence in rural, suburban, and urban schools in Pennsylvania. Journal of School Nursing, 34(4), 263-269.
McDonald, C.C., Brawner, B.M., Fargo, J., Swope, J. & Sommers, M.S. (2018). Development of a theoretically-grounded, web-based intervention to reduce adolescent driver inattention to the roadway. Journal of School Nursing, 34(4), 270-280. (NIHMSID: 879373; PMC5722713).
McDonald, C.C., Sommers, M.S., Fargo, J.D., Seacrist, T., & Power, T. (2018). Simulated driving performance, self-reported driving behaviors and mental health symptoms in adolescent novice drivers. Nursing Research, 67(3), (NIHMSID: 926206; PMC5926816).
Li, L., Li, Y., McDonald, C.C., & Liu, J. (2018). Parent-reported mild head injury history in children: Long-term effects on Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Global Pediatric Health, 5, 1-8. https://doi.org/10.1177/2333794X18756465.
Bader, C., Giordano, N.A., Meghani, S.H., McDonald, C.C., Polomano, R.C. (2018). Musculoskeletal pain and headache in the active duty military population: An integrative review. Worldviews on Evidenced-Based Nursing, 15(4), 264-271.